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Laverne H. Bardy Headshot

My Big Fat Jewish Wedding

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Two hundred eyes were on me. I hung like dead weight from the arms of my two sons, who struggled to hold me up as we walked towards the ominous altar. My legs were water and I heard my heart pounding in my ears. I could see the handsome, sweet, loving man with a wide grin and glistening moist eyes, waiting for me to join him.

I was having an out-of-body experience. This couldn't possibly be happening to me -- someone who, after a failed 23-year marriage, had been faithfully dedicated to living as an unencumbered, unfettered, free-spirited single for the following 23 years of my life. I was never going to marry again. Not me. Never.

I heard the distant echo of the rabbi's words, recited the prayers, watched the ring being placed upon my finger and heard loud applause and cheers when Marc stomped on and smashed the glass -- symbolizing the end of the ceremony and the beginning of our life together.

It was surreal.

We decided to do things differently this time around. Whereas each of our first weddings, roughly five decades earlier, had evoked approving smiles from both Emily Post and Miss Manners, this one was unconventional, free-spirited, with just a hint of rebellion.

Since it had been our era, we selected the 1950s as our theme and spent nine months hand crafting centerpieces, decorative wall hangings and invitations that best depicted that decade. The groom now wore black pegged slacks, black wing-tipped shoes with white socks, and a black and white bowling shirt with a pair of dice embroidered on the left collar. In anticipation of this day, he had been growing his hair for months, and it was now slicked back and gelled into a perfect steel-gray D.A. He looked like a well-preserved version of Arthur Fonzarelli.

I, too, stepped straight out of a scene from Happy Days, dressed as Pinky Tuscadero in pink rolled-up jeans, white canvas sneakers, white socks, and a pink satin club jacket that read PINK LADIES on the back and had a large, scripted "L" sewn onto the front left side.

Male guests came dressed in jeans, leather jackets, white T-shirts with cigarette packs rolled up in one sleeve and Elvis haircuts. Women donned poodle skirts, saddle oxfords, men's baggy dress shirts tied in a knot, at the waist, cardigan sweaters worn backwards, pony tails, neckerchiefs and pink cat-eye sun glasses.

Tacky ruled.

Imagine, if you will, a dance floor overflowing with balding, overweight, senior citizens struggling to keep their hula hoops up and rotating. Aging bodies rebelled and creaked as they repeatedly bent over to retrieve fallen hoops. And for the length of one 78 record, arthritic aches and pains were ignored as scores of seniors relived their youth while gleefully gyrating to the beat of "Jailhouse Rock."

Marc had done the unthinkable. He had invited seven family members to stay at our place before, during, and after the wedding. They would have to sleep in sleeping bags, on couches, and on cots and I would have to stock the cupboard and fridge, and do all sorts of things in preparation for their visit, at a time when I desperately needed quiet and solitude. I gave considerable thought to killing Marc, but because I understood his need to spend time with his family, who live all over the country, I allowed him to live. Their being here ended up being a blessing as it offered an opportunity for our respective families to spend time getting to know each other, and they hit it off beautifully.

The dust has settled. I am still not accustomed to being married, but I do know that this man in no way curtails my thinking or restricts my activities so I suspect that the transition from being an independent single woman to an independent married woman, won't be difficult.

I didn't take his last name. It's difficult to spell and too long to comfortably fit on most "Sign here" lines. He didn't mind at all but, understandably, preferred I not keep the name of my last husband. So, I had my name legally changed from Pollak, back to my maiden name, Bardy, which is something I meant to do years ago.

It will be a long time before our guests forget about the evening they attended a '50s wedding, with a Jewish bride, a Catholic groom, and a rabbi presiding over a Jewish ceremony, at a Japanese restaurant.